Wisconsin Main Street Joins Retail Minded Partner Program

(Parker, CO May 21, 2015) – The Wisconsin Main Street and Retail Minded have announced their partnership in an effort to better support the independent businesses and retailers within the Wisconsin Main Street organization.

Delivered up to eight times a year, the Wisconsin Main Street will introduce Retail Minded Magazine and other educational resources provided by Retail Minded to their members throughout the year. The Partnership is designed to further support their efforts in providing their members educational value, while also providing the Wisconsin Main Street a chance to deliver quality, relevant, industry-specific news and support for their businesses.

We love working with communities across the country, and the Wisconsin Main Street program is such a fantastic addition to our collective group of Retail Minded Partners. They are a vibrant, dedicated organization that truly care about small business success and community vitality. We’re thrilled to welcome them to the Retail Minded Partner Program,” shares Retail Minded’s Founder and Publisher Nicole Leinbach Reyhle.

Expanding on this is Darrin Wasniewski, Downtown Development Program Manager of Wisconsin Main Street.

Wisconsin Main Street is excited to partner with Retail Minded to bring expert insight and timely advice to the independent retailers in our Main Street communities across Wisconsin. Having been a personal subscriber, I know the value Retail Minded brings to the table. The partner program allows our Wisconsin Main Street programs to strengthen their position as a resource for local independent retailers. “states Wasniewski. 

Wisconsin Main Street is one of 36 Main Street Communities in that state administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. In 2013-14, these 36 Main Streets created over 450 jobs and almost 100 new businesses opened. The communities within Wisconsin that receive these great benefits range from less than 1,000 residents to larger neighborhoods within larger cities such as Milwaukee.

Retail Minded’s Partner Program was designed to further support associations and other retail focused groups in helping their members gain trusted and valued retail news, education and support. Partners of this program include North Carolina’s Retail Merchant Association, the Kentucky Retail Federation, Crafter’s Home retail group, Main Street New Jersey, Main Street Libertyville, and many others.

Learn more about the Wisconsin Main Street at http://inwisconsin.com/community/assistance/main-street-program/.

Learn more about Retail Minded at RetailMinded.com.

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Excess Inventory – Signs You Have it and Equations to Calculate it

Inventory that is slow moving and stuck on the shelf is a plague to your small business.

The cost of inventory is normally the largest expense item on a small retailer’s income statement. There is no question mismanaging this number can make or break your year.

Most small business owners are hesitant to discount or admit to themselves they have excess inventory. They fear moving items to clearance will decrease profits and revenue.

Or perhaps the opposite happens. Owners are constantly placing items in clearance because they need cash to purchase new products, make payroll, or pay rent.

The quick way of determining surplus inventory is by simply looking around your store and noting the sections that are more full than others.

  • Do you have products in your store that are more than a year old?
  • Are you having an excessive amount of sales?
  • Is there a section in your storeroom reserved for seasonal products that didn’t sell during that season?

In the long run, holding on to inventory in hopes that it will eventually sell at full price is costing you more money than selling it at a discount, and purchasing better selling products. Unfortunately, dust is not an asset.

Along with the obvious method of doing a store walk through, you also have the option to use retail equations to get a better understanding of your inventory performance.

Data from your point of sale system will help ensure accuracy when using these equations: 

Sales Per Square Foot  =  Annual Sales  ÷  Total Square Feet of Store

The higher the number the better for SPSF.

This equation is used to determine the efficiency of the store in creating sales with the amount of store space available.

If you want to go more in-depth you can keep records of where you stand now compared to years prior, or break these numbers down by department or store section.

Try sectioning your store into four quadrants, and then crunch your numbers with this equation. If one segment is coming out to be much lower than the other three do some investigating to determine which products are reducing your store’s efficiency. 

Days Inventory Outstanding  =  (Average Inventory / Cost Of Goods Sold)  x  365

The lower the number the better for DIO.

This equation is used to determine how long it takes to turn inventory into sales.

Your average inventory can be found by adding your beginning and ending inventory cost for a 12-month period and then diving by 2.

Keep in mind your DIO will vary depending on your industry. Compare your number with similar retailers to see where you stand.

Example: If your number comes out to be 91, this means your store sells its entire inventory within a 91 day period, and you average 4 inventory cycles per year.

After you have calculated your DIO – post a short comment below of your retail store and the number you come up with. This will help you and other retailers put their performance into relatable terms.

Here’s an example to help you further understand:

Greg’s Running World

Memphis, TN

Small shop focused on active individuals that are into running/walking. We sell running shoes, socks, and other athletic apparel.

DIO – 104 days

In Conclusion

Dust – as we mentioned earlier – isn’t an asset to your business. By managing  your excess inventory, you are helping to bring more success to your store. It really can be that simple. All it takes? Your action steps with the help above to get you moving forward in eliminating excess inventory and bringing more success to your store.


Photo Credit: Image provided by BoxFox.co with permission to use. 

The Halloween & Party Expo Partners With the Independent Retailer Conference

Parker, CO (May 21, 2015) – The Independent Retailer Conference is thrilled to announce their latest trade show partner – the Halloween & Party Expo – among their partner shows that will welcome the Independent Retailer Conference in 2016 at their event in New Orleans, January 22 – 25, 2016.

When we look for trade show partners, we aim to work with companies that have the same goals as we do – which is to help independent merchants achieve stronger store success. The Halloween & Party Expo aims to achieve this, as well, and we look forward to supporting them in their efforts to do just that,” shares Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Independent Retailer Conference Co-Founder. 

The Independent Retailer Conference is dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of small business owners. Their education-rich, action-packed events offer retailers, wholesalers and community leaders the chance to engage, learn and connect with retail experts, industry leaders, service providers and like-minded entrepreneurs. Attendees of the Halloween & Party Expo can expect interactive experiences that leave them better educated and more inspired – including a “Power Hour” to take place each day that is dedicated to merchants making more money.

Doug Miller, President and Partner of Urban Expositions, looks forward to the new addition of the Independent Retailer Conference – as well as the chance to further support merchants in helping to reach their store goals.

Urban Expositions and the Halloween Industry Association (HIA) are thrilled to be partnering with the Independent Retail Conference for the Halloween & Party Expo. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring tailored content for the small business owner to the show. The unique format of the conference allows for access to not only actionable insight from the speakers but direct connections with leading retail partners,” shares Miller.

Expanding on this is Independent Retailer Conference Co-Founder Kerry Bannigan.

Retailers are busy and have a lot of ground to cover while attending the Halloween & Party Expo. Our sessions are designed to deliver quick education while also introducing attendees to experts and industry leaders who support merchants in achieving retail success. The “Power Hour” along with the Independent Retailer Conference’s trademark pop-up sessions will help attendees gain quality information and insight for their stores without compromising their time with vendors,” explained Bannigan.

The Halloween & Party Expo is the place to see and be seen for anyone working in the costume and party goods industry, and the impressive registration numbers show it. Sign-ups for the 2015 Expo exceeded the year before, and the Halloween & Party Expo is globally recognized as a leader in the Halloween and party retail sectors. Together, the Independent Retailer Conference and the Halloween & Party Expo look forward to supporting attendees in gaining success for their stores.  For more information on the event visit www.halloweenpartyexpo.com.

About Independent Retailer Conference

The Independent Retailer Conference is the nation’s only retail conference dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of independent store owners. Founded by industry veterans Nicole Leinbach Reyhle of Retail Minded & Kerry Bannigan of Nolcha Fashion Week, the Independent Retailer Conference offers independent retailers the chance to engage, learn, and connect with industry leaders while also getting inspired from retail experts, service providers and like-minded retailers from across the nation.

About Halloween & Party Expo

The Halloween & Party Expo, the leading event for Halloween, Party and Celebration, is a trade-only event that brings industry professionals together each year. Co-owned by Urban Expositions and the Halloween Industry Association, the event provides a platform for sourcing, learning, and networking. Proceeds from the Halloween & Party Expo are used by the Halloween Industry Association to promote and grow the safe celebration of Halloween and year-round costumed events throughout North America. The next event will be held in New Orleans, January 22 – 25, 2016. For more information visit www.halloweenpartyexpo.com.

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When Crisis Strikes: Disaster Preparedness Plans for Small Businesses

Almost 40 percent of small businesses never recover after a natural disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Inches of water can cripple a company with tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Safeguard your company by creating a disaster preparedness plan for how to get back up and running when crisis strikes.

Keep an emergency contact list

Floods, fires and hurricanes could strike at any time leaving your business unprepared for contacting the proper people. Create a list of who to contact in an emergency and distribute to all employees and vendors as needed.

Get in touch with office building managers, employees or vendors who may be working onsite to ensure everyone is safe. Touch base with your clients whether by email or over the phone to tell them about the problem and that the office will be closed.

Develop a fire preparation plan

Three percent of workplace fatalities result from fires and explosions, based on data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts. The same report cites fire as the most-common type of emergency for small businesses.

Stock your office with fire extinguishers and create workplace education programs so you can prevent a fire at work before it starts. Invest in annual training for specific employees to work fire extinguishers and arrange for inspection, testing and maintenance of your fire protection systems. Come up with a plan of action. You may want to completely evacuate the office any time an alarm sounds or choose to fight a small fire with an escape route in mind. Hold regular fire drills and practice evacuating. Designate specific employees to take training on using the extinguishers and fire safety.

Invest in flood insurance

Floods are the most widespread natural disaster other than wildfires, and 90 percent of all disasters declared by the President involve flooding. Floods can not only damage valuable equipment and office furniture, but also put stress on walls and compromise the structure of your building. Depending on the extent of the flooding, the water conditions entering your business could be contaminated with chemical waste, sewage and pesticides.

If possible, move your business away from flood-hazard areas, elevate your property or try dry flood-proofing your building. While prevention can save the day, because flooding can happen to anyone, anywhere, it’s crucial to also invest in business flood insurance for added protection. The right policy can help restore your business in cases of heavy or prolonged rains and storm surges. Melting snow, drainage system blockages and levee failure can also cause flood damage and need to be insured appropriately.

Create a back-up plan

More companies are treating natural disasters and malware as a similar risk to their success and network uptime. That means rolling your disaster-related plans into one, whether you’re a victim of flooding or a cyber attack. Speak to your IT department about developing a plan if servers crash or are destroyed by natural disaster.

Brainstorm a plan to keep important documents and files on the cloud so business operations can be restored from anywhere. Consider moving as many business aspects to the cloud and setting up your employees to work from their own devices to keep business moving along as usual when disaster strikes.

Photo Credit: Image provided by Social Monsters with permission to use. 

How Retailers Can Keep Up with Modern Consumers: A Q&A with Retail Expert Chris Petersen

Shoppers of today are more well-informed and empowered than ever. The rise of ecommerce, social media and mobile devices are putting a ton of information (and options) at your customers’ fingertips and are enabling them to get the knowledge and products they need however and whenever they want. They’re researching, shopping, and buying across multiple channels, and retailers must find ways to keep up.
As part of Vend’s Retail Success Webinar series, Francesca Nicasio caught up with Chris Petersen, CEO of Integrated Marketing Solutions, and asked him to share this thoughts on the changing shopping habits of consumers, and what retailers can do to stay competitive.

How are consumers of today different from those in the past?

What’s changing retail is the changing behavior of consumers. Consumers are now shopping anytime and everywhere, and that changes everything from a retailer’s perspective because the consumer is basically shopping all of the time.
And what’s key here is not only have consumers changed how they shop and where they shop, but they’ve also changed their expectations. They’re expecting that they can get a wider choice online and they’re expecting that they can benchmark prices. What that means for brick-and-mortar stores is that consumers have much higher expectations when they go into a shop–they’re now expecting higher levels of service and they want experiences that they can’t find online.
There’s also the fact that consumers these days are quite comfortable using smartphones. For most of the world, the smartphone is the screen of choice; it’s highly mobile, which enables showrooming and all of those concepts around that.
But what’s interesting is statistics have shown that more people webroom than showroom. There’s still a very high percentage of people buying products in store when it’s a considered purchase.
However, people aren’t going to stores to gather the fundamentals. When they walk into the store, they’ve likely already researched the features, recommendations and price comparisons of what they want to buy, but they’re going down there to have an experience with the product.

That’s a great overview of what’s changed. Now could you tell us about consumer habits or expectations that have stayed the same?

I think there’s still a habit of shopping being social. People don’t get that on the web. We sometimes forget that it’s not just a quest for a product or a price—there’s a social dimension of shopping. We still see people in the Mall of America and the big stores where there’s a social component that’s enjoyable and is part of the purchase decision. I think that part of shopping has stayed the same.
And there’s still the expectation that a store would have associates that people can talk to. Shoppers still go to stores because there are people there. However, while that’s still the same, the expectation of what that person does in the store is now heightened or increased, in terms of the consumer perception of value.
I also think there’s the perception of personalization. Consumers still go to stores because of the personal experience. You can get a personal custom fit, a personal recommendation, a personal experience through physical retail. You can’t really get that online.

What are the things retailers can do to cater to modern consumers?

It depends if the retailer is pure ecommerce, if they’re store-only or if they’re omnichannel. In general though, I think retailers need to have more touchpoints.
Shopping now is a journey, not an event. In a sense, shopping is a process. Maybe not when you’re buying chewing gum or something simple, but if you’re buying a dress, or shoes, or something you’re interested in, it’s a journey.
That journey typically starts online. And that doesn’t just mean retail websites. It can mean online guru sites where people talk about products. Mommy bloggers, for example, are a huge source of information that people turn to before heading to ecommerce.
Because of this, retailers need more touchpoints and they also need to engage consumers sooner. That’s the first thing retailers need to do.
The second thing is provide information beyond product features and specs. Most of that is very quick and easy to get when consumers are comparing prices or products, so what consumers are looking for now is use scenarios, how it applies, consumer testimonials—in other words, information beyond the product.
The third thing is assistance everywhere. So if I’m an ecommerce site, I’ll be looking at things like chat boxes or offers of assistance. I’ll look into things things that ecommerce players can do other than just offer an electronic catalog.
I can probably give you six or eight more of these, but the big ones are a) engage early with customers; b) give them more than product features; and c) personalize their shopping journey.

In terms of offline retail, what can retailers do to convert and engage customers in-store?

One of the things retailers have to understand is that online always wins in terms of the breadth of the store. In the past, a lot of retailers focused on stocking more things in the store. In other words, more is better.
But that’s no longer the case. Now, the retailers that seem to be winning are the ones that curate assortments. What that means is carefully selecting the top styles, showing the top models, or offering a showcase of “good, better, best” instead of trying to stock every color or every single SKU.
Another thing is to recognize that the consumer may want to check things online or via mobile while they’re in-store. A good example of this is John Lewis. They’re engaging consumers in the store, and enabling them to use an app, website, or touchscreen. That way, if they have any questions or can’t find what they need, they can look it up, engage with the staff, or engage by themselves.
Another huge component is staffing. Retailers tend to view labor as a cost, not a selling asset. So they end up reducing hours, training, and labor costs, when what they should be doing is to recognize that associates are key to providing compelling in-store experience and adding sales to the basket.

Want more retail insights?

If you’re looking for more insights on the changes surrounding consumers and retailers, Chris will be hosting Vend’s upcoming Retail Success webinar, The Great Retail Disruption — Omnichannel is the New Normal at 1:00pm PDT / 4:00pm EDT on May 20. It’s free for anyone to attend, simply register your interest here.

Chris Petersen, PhD, CEO of Integrated Marketing Solutions, is a strategic consultant who specializes in retail strategy, customer experience, and retail metrics. He has built a legacy working with Fortune 500 companies to achieve measurable results in improving their performance and partnerships.

Photo Credit: Vend POS with permission to use.